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Sunsets at the Speed of Light
Wordlessly Watching He Waits by the Window and Wonders
I was in a meeting the other day with a friend who manages my school’s student literary publication. Submissions have been open for six months, and it’s almost time to publish. There’s just one problem - there’s a scarcity of submissions.
Who wants to sit down and write after experiencing the trauma of the past year? Trauma is wordlessness - ineffable, un-metabolized experience. Yet, one way to process trauma is to give it shape through art or voice through words - take the pain and create.
I’ve got a list of things I’d like to create: write a book, make a video about breakfast burritos, write & record a song, learn Python, train to complete a Murph WOD. Yet, it’s easier to split and say “I’ll begin once I’ve finished school and have more free time to…” However, that’s really just projecting my desires onto my future self.
What keeps us from engaging? I pose the question hypothetically, but in reality it’s a very personal question. For each of us.
I’ve got several ideas bouncing around in my head these days (I’ve been reading a lot of books this year, so these ideas aren’t all original).
- Violence as a lack of creativity.
- Love as the expansion of self to include the other.
- Wealth as the ease and freedom of being generous.
- Evil as a reified projection.
- The necessity of the Other in the creation of the mind/self.
- The necessity of institutionalized religion to promote division (both societally and psychologically within the believer) for its own replication.
But what good do ideas do playing pinball in my brain?
Perhaps we don’t create because we live within a narrative of scarcity that has not developed the capacity to engage the vast psychological, spiritual, and physical wealth that comes from creation. Perhaps a learned addiction to shame is an easier story to believe about ourselves - a worn out garment we refuse to take off to repair. Perhaps we don’t create because the “not enough” feelings of shame we experienced when our desire was met with contempt are unbearably painful - avoidance becomes easier than risk.
This past year has been a year of heightened scarcity in many ways - a scarcity of toilet paper, a scarcity of PPE, a scarcity of justice. Having lived according to a narrative of scarcity for so long, it’s often easier to continue doing so.
My current narrative of scarcity is linked to my status as a grad student working to get by in an expensive city. But I don’t want to live out of scarcity, to live life as if it were a marketed commodity. When I slow down, I remember life is more about relational being than market-reaction doing. Who, not what.
I was talking with another friend on Sunday about sharing as the final act of creation. In these conversations and in my personal reading I hear an invitation being whispered to begin, to risk connection through creation.
I hope you find what you do not know you need.
1. Horizontal Gene Transfer - This is the phenomenon responsible for antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Nature is pretty amazing.
2. Quote - “We either see things and persons with reverence and awe, and therefore treat them as genuinely other than ourselves; or we appropriate them, and manipulate them for our purposes. This way of seeing and believing is a lifetime’s work. It is a way of love. It is hard work but it is, in a sense, the only work that matters, I tremble before it. But I know of no other way.” - Alan Jones